I recently bought a TV with HDMI-CEC support, which could be one of the coolest features introduced to displays in a long long time. It’s kinda like IR over HDMI. It allows the TV to auto-switch sources, turn on and off, all depending on what you’re doing with the devices connected to it. The Chromecast turns on the display and switches input when you try and stream to it. My Steam Link will switch TV inputs and take control when I press the Steam button on the controller. This will replace the TV remote control by factoring it out entirely.
It turns out the PS4 also supports CEC, as does it’s predecessor the PS3. So imagine my surprise when I discover the Xbox One, Microsoft’s pinnacle of Home Entertainment, doesn’t have this support baked in. Oh, the port in the back is compatible and the bundled cabling also supports it. The system reportedly even has some low-level awareness, probably even have the software update sitting on a server somewhere that enables it. Inexplicably, however, this feature is nowhere to be found. Instead, we have the Kinnect, a device that was once a next-generation human interface device that allowed you to use your xbox minority report style for when your controller is just out of reach. That is, until Microsoft released their NXE refresh a few months back and completely disabled the feature.
So, now the Kinnect’s primary usefulness is to log you in through the camera, voice commands like ‘Xbox Stop Listening’, and as an IR blaster to control your TV. Some people think that Microsoft is sitting on the CEC updates so they don’t undercut Kinnect more so, but as a Kinnect owner I’d really prefer they just implement all the functionality they can. The PS3 supports this stuff, after all.
That’s not the only Xbox One feature that goes unused in my living room, the HDMI in port, something I thought was a huge differentiator when I decided to buy a next-gen console, was a lot cooler last year when I still had cable. For a moment, I wanted to hook my Chromecast into it, but alas with CEC it’s better to have it plugged into the TV.
All that to say that one little HDMI protocol tweak kinda devastates the Xbox One’s whole value proposition. Also considering the TV I bought supports Miracast, a feature Microsoft has kept in Preview for over a year, I’ve really started to question my decision to buy one of their stupid consoles. At least the PS4 doesn’t support 4K either, or else I would have already rage sold my One.